Our Home Stories

Nur And Omer

Nur and her young son, Omer live in a family friendly neighbourhood in an Israeli city. Omer attends a local day care centre and Nur has a job in a nearby vegetable store. Their future is bright and full of love.

It wasn’t always though…

Nur’s journey from desolation to independence happened because our donors contribute to the care, services and programs at the Shabtai Levi Home. Thank you for your support!

18 months ago, Nur was alone and utterly incapable of caring for a child. She was lucky though! Nur and Omer were admitted to the Forever Chai Mother/Child Unit at the Shabtai Levi home.

By participating in the Forever Chai Mother Child Unit’s renowned rehabilitation program, Nur learned to care for her son and take her place in Israeli society.


Galia began her stay in the Mother/Child Unit of the Shabtai Levi Home about a year and a half ago.  Born in the Ukraine, she was 23 years old when she arrived in the unit with her two children, Daniel age three and Anna age 2. She was sent from a town in the north of Israel after the welfare team there assessed her condition. Her own life had been cruel and despite the fact that she had neglected her own children, the welfare service workers felt that she was deserving of a chance to rehabilitate.

Galia’s own mother died while giving birth to her and she was raised by her father and sisters who blamed her for her mother’s death and rejected her. She was abused constantly.

At age 14, Galia was sold by her family to a crime organization that trafficked in women and she was forced to work as a sex slave. At the age of 18, the crime organization arranged her “Aliyah” to Israel where she was sold to a local organization that continued to use her in the sex trade. The pimp who bought her is the father of her two children and is now serving a prison term for his acts of violence against her.

Just before he went to prison, he handed Galia over to his mother who used her first as a slave in her house and then put her back to wok as a prostitute. She developed an addiction to alcohol and gave t to her children to “keep them quiet”.

Galia’s integration into the Mother/Child Unit at the Shabtai Levi Home was slow and full of problems but from the beginning, the staff was able to see encouraging signs and reasons to hope. She seemed to be constantly sad, depressed, and without expression. She was so detached that in order to communicate with her, staff had to touch her. She expressed no positive feelings towards her children and had no interest in anyone else. She felt the way to gain the children’s love was to buy them sweets and she imposed no limits on their behavior. At times, she would explode with excessive rage towards them, especially directed towards her son, Daniel.

Daniel would approach her like a baby and when he was ignored, he would lash out hitting her and then rejecting her. He would go around the building asking for presents and sweets from others, having uncontrolled temper tantrums and asking to stay in the other mothers’ rooms and have dinner with them.

Throughout this difficult period, Galia was open to therapy and t was evident that she really wanted to understand her situation. From the day of her arrival, she performed all of her concrete tasks impeccably, cooking and feeding her children, shopping and was able to take care of any health problems she or the children might have. She cleaned their clothes, joined in kindergarten activities and kept her apartment clean and tidy. She kept to her budget and earned some extra money with a cleaning job twice a week.

Galia became attached to her therapist and to the unit’s team and formed some friendships with the young caregivers at the Home. She experienced difficulties with the older caregivers whom she considered dangerous and exploitive like the older people she had known throughout her life.

This mistrust of the older caregivers led to outbursts of rage and became central to her therapy. As her therapy progressed, Galia made impressive advances in many other areas. She was able to develop relations with others, look, touch and smile. Her outbursts declined and she has gained the love and affection of all the caregivers who admire her efforts to change and are impressed with all her achievements.

Galia’s relationship with her children has also changed dramatically. She touches, hugs and speaks to them as a mother should. She has learned to set clear boundaries for them. She proudly declares that Daniel and Anna are the anchors that connect her with reality and that she wants to give them a better life than she had. Daniel and Anna have become very attached to her.

Galia’s stay in the Mother/Child Unit is about to come to an end. Those who have worked with her feel she has succeeded in becoming a real parent who wants to ensure a good future for her children. They were impressed by her ability to change, by her readiness to continue with her therapy and by her willingness to accept help to reach her goals. She has been given a temporary flat and has worked and saved in order to furnish it. Local social services will accompany her and her children into the community and assist them in their re-integration. With their help, Galia will be able to raise her children, be a better mother and realize the hope and promise of a brighter future.

An Adoptive Father Writes

After a traumatic experience at another with adoption when I adopted my first child, I came to the Shabtai Levi Home seeking to adopt another.

From the time that I entered the Home, my experience was different.  I was welcomed as a visitor, hallways were not blocked and there was no effort to hide or silence children or staff.

I met with the social worker. Everyone concerned attended my initial meeting and the atmosphere was warm and welcoming. Everyone from senior staff to caregivers was there and I had the feeling that everyone would contribute to the big picture. There was definitely an air of openness and honesty.

My wife and I were able to see the child in his natural environment where he was participating as a member of a group. There was no one-way mirror and this added to our feelings of transparency.

We visited several times and I came to understand how much the child we were looking to adopt loved this place. He loved and was loved. I became part of the Home. I met many of the staff including the caregivers and the nurse.  I sensed the feeling of trust that emanates and knew that the Shabtai Levi Home was a warm, loving and caring place.

Despite his difficult beginning in life, our child arrived at our home strong and ready for his next challenge – integration into our family and the fulfillment of his precious potential.

I have spoken to other adoptive parents with whom who communicate and all of us feel that there is a meaningful difference between the children who have been cared for at the Shabtai Levi Home and children from other care facilities. I hope that my words will encourage the Child Welfare Service and the Ministry of Welfare to see the Shabtai Levi Home as the model to be imitated by all other units where children wait to be adopted. 


Joseph arrived in the Babies’ Room at the Shabtai Levi Home when he was 3 days old. His mother, who had delivered him by Caesarean section, suffered from bipolar mood disorder and was transferred to a treatment facility. Several days later, she came to visit Joseph.

During her first visits, Joseph’s mother’s moods fluctuated from tranquil when Joseph would lie peacefully in her arms to moments filled with hostility and tension coupled with bizarre and inappropriate behaviour towards her son and aggressiveness towards the staff.

The staff in the Babies’ Room were witness to swift and extreme mood shifts and there were times when Joseph’s mother could not see or relate to his needs. She would undress him when changing his diaper and leave him naked in a chilly room. She felt that crying and restlessness was good for his development.

When Joseph was 3 weeks old, he was rushed to hospital when he suddenly stopped breathing and remained in intensive care until his condition stabilized. His mother’s bizarre behaviour was noticed in the hospital and after his discharge, she was put under intensive psychiatric supervision and treated with medication.

After two months of treatment, Joseph’s mother began to visit him again. In the beginning, she seemed hesitant and lacked confidence but after meeting with the Shabtai Levi staff and with the help of Joseph’s caregivers, she regained her confidence. She seemed more relaxed and organized when she was with him. She became more receptive to help and more willing to ask for it when she needed it. Father also became part of Joseph’s life and both parents engaged in the treatment that Joseph needed because of his slow development. Joseph is progressing well and is receiving intensive support from both parents. His mother is continuing with her psychiatric treatment and wants to continue her relationship with the staff at Shabtai Levi in order to guarantee the success of her family. At five months, Joseph was able to return to his parents’ home.

A Love Story In The Emergency Centre

I’m here until they find me a family.

These words, pronounced solemnly by a six-year-old boy were my initiation into the Shabtai Levi Home’s Emergency Centre. These words, the first I heard as a volunteer, were carved into my heart. It dawned on me that this Emergency Centre is like a halfway station designed to put the children on a new track, to direct them from darkness to light.

My stay in the Emergency Centre was part of my fieldwork assignment as a psychology student. Soon enough I became attached to each and every one of the children. I realized that, as a volunteer, I had to make this period as pleasant as possible for the children thus helping them to get used to a life so different from everything that they knew in the past. Every smile I received was worth more than my scholarship and definitely more valuable than a good mark in a psychology exam. The warm feeling that comes from doing something to improve the life of a child is worth so much more.

I was warned before I came to Shabtai Levi that many volunteers become addicted to the place and stay for years. How true that is!

The staff is dedicated to their mission, treating each child with empathy and sensitivity. The children can only be described as “thieves of the heart.”

Recently one of the boys caught hold of my hand and dragged me across the room to meet his Dad. “I want my Dad to thank you,” he said while his brother added,” He loves all the children here.” How could I explain to them that I was the one who should be thankful… thankful for the wonderful feeling that comes from being here and participating in the amazing work at this amazing place – The Shabtai Levi Home

The Words of an Anonymous Volunteer